This year's conference is titled, "Civil Discourse in the Age of Social Media: Lessons from our Search for Truth during COVID."

Civil discourse around complicated and divisive topics has suffered since Covid. Our country is divided and seemingly unable to have productive and respectful discussions in our search for truth, and in the subsequent implementation of effective and compassionate public policy. Many have argued that this divisiveness is exacerbated by social media, which creates “echo chambers” that run counter to civil discourse; and, that BigTech is playing a central role in this negative effect on how free speech is exercised in America. To this end, our 2021 LFE summit brings you the leading thought leaders on the Covid policy discussions and on the broad role of social media, respectively. We will also have other scholarly experts and students from in and outside of Concordia.


Click here to register.

This event is free for students, faculty, and staff; $35 for outside guests (includes 5.5 contact hours)


Session 1

Venue: Todd Wehr Auditorium

  • 11:00 – 11:50 a.m. | Facilitator – Aaron Moldenhauer, M.Div., Ph.D.-- Concordia Faculty and Administrators Demonstrating & Discussing Civil Discourse around COVID
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm | Jay Bhattacharya, MD, Ph.D.-- Civil Discourse and Fear vs. Fact in Determining Sensible COVID Public Policy.
  • 1:00 – 1:30 pm | Break


Session 2

Venue: Collaboratorium in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center and Online (Jaron Lanier)

  • 1:30 – 2:15 | Gregory Schulz, D.Min., Ph.D.-- Evil Media: How Technology Enframes us Professionally and Personally
  • 2:15 – 3:00 | Dan Churchwell, MA.-- AI in Social Media and Beyond: What It Means to be Human – Theory of Mind and the Future of Work.
  • 3:00 – 3:45 pm | Daniel Sem, Ph.D., JD, MBA.-- Students Demonstrating Civil Discourse around Covid & Impact of Social Media
  • 3:45 – 4:00 pm | Break
  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm | Jaron Lanier-- The Role of Social Media in a Civil Society


Jay Bhattacharya, MD, Ph.D. | Civil discourse and fear vs. fact in determining sensible COVID public policy | 12-1 p.m. in the Todd Wehr Auditorium

Dr. Bhattacharya is Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and is also Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and Professor of Economics. He is one of the three authors of The Great Barrington Decla-ration. Dr. Bhattacharya’s research focuses on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the role of government programs, biomedical innovation, and economics. His recent research focuses on the epidemiology of COVID-19 as well as an evaluation of policy responses to the epidemic. He has published 135 articles in top peer-reviewed scientific journals in medicine, economics, health policy, epidemiology, statistics, law, and public health. He holds an MD and PhD in economics, both earned at Stanford University.

Jaron Lanier | The role of social media in a civil society | 4-5 p.m. in the Robert W. Plaster Collaboratorium

A pioneer in the development of virtual reality (he coined the term), and currently a Microsoft scientist, Lanier was named one of the 25 most influential people by Wired Magazine. He was also named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Lanier is an author who writes on the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information and internet politics. His books include Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Right Now, and You are Not a Gadget. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Atlantic and Scientific American. And, he has appeared on The View, Nightline, Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report, PBS News Hour, and has been a creative consultant for movies (Minority Report and The Circle).